Direct Care is Not the End of Empathy

If you’re currently running an insurance-based fee-for-service primary care facility, and planning to switch to direct care, you should read this op/ed from the Wall Street Journal.¬†Jerald Winakur practiced internal and geriatric medicine for 36 years and is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. His cousin Irene, a 90-year-old woman living in Queens, was recently notified that her internist was joining the concierge medicine ranks.

Winakur’s thoughts are less than enthusiastic about profit-focused decision making. But, they actually don’t contradict our own belief in Atlas MD-style of direct care. Why is that? Because concierge medicine is not the same as direct care. According to Winakur:

“What Irene learned was that her internist was converting her fee-for-service office into a ‘concierge practice.’ For a yearly retainer of $2,200 (in addition to the usual charges that would still be billed through Medicare and supplemental insurance), Irene would receive “value-added” services. These include same-day appointments, electronic access to her medical records and lab reports, shortened waiting times, and other ‘frills’ that Irene said her doctor always provided anyway.”

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